For a second year, Ucluelet Secondary School will not host a public graduation ceremony due to pandemic restrictions. As conciliation, family and friends are invited to celebrate the grads on Saturday, June 19 at 4:30 p.m. as they parade through the streets of Ucluelet.
USS school principal Carol Sedgwick says the Class of 2021 is a resilient bunch. With the implementation of mask wearing and the new quarter system, plus dealing with seismic upgrades construction, 2021 has been anything but normal on these 21 West Coast teens.
“This class is prepared to handle almost anything. Their ability to adapt is remarkable. I’m super proud of these kids. They’ve overcome all sorts of challenges,” said Sedgwick.
Jada Touchie says it was hard at first to adjust to all the differences that came with the restrictions and the constructions, but in the end, it was nice to see everyone. She plans on studying biology at Vancouver Island University.
Brendan Brown agreed that the beginning of the year was challenging.
“It feels good to be graduating,” he said, adding that he has a landscaping job lined up for the summer.
Saiya Jacques is off to Camosun College to pursue an Arts and Science undergrad.
“I’m so grateful for this school. Staff are so nice and understanding. The community is so wonderful here. I’m going to miss the library the most. It was a nice space for me,” she said.
Tyrese Curly will continue his work experience with the Ucluelet Co-op. He says he’ll miss seeing his little brothers around the halls the most.
Co-creator of ‘Finding Solitude’ film Tristan Hinder-Hohlweg is heading to Emily Carr University to further his artistic career in freelance filmmaking. He hopes to continue producing documentaries on the natural world that educate on conservation.
“Graduating is almost surreal, the years have blurred together and I couldn’t have ever imagined it going by so fast. I’ve had exponential personal growth over the years (both mentally and in terms of my height!) and I can’t wait to see where the next chapter of my life ends up taking me,” said Hinder-Hohlweg, adding that he will miss the good laughs, band trips and amazing teachers that helped make high school so enjoyable.
Tofino surfer Seth Stere was accepted to University of Victoria, but plans to travel and take a gap year after working through the summer. He says he will miss the amazing teachers as well.
“Michael Chapman, Jason Sam, and Nicole Thompson to name a few,” said Stere.
As an extra special boost for the grads this year, the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust awarded a Neighbourhood Small Grant (NSG) of $500 to put towards 21 Goodies for the Grads gift bags.
“I just thought how hard it must have been on the high school kids this year… Then I started thinking of what treats a Grade 12 would love and poutine from Ukee Dogs came to mind. It snowballed from there,” said grant applicant and NSG project lead Nora O’Malley.
Tourism Tofino got wind of the NSG project and immediately jumped in with 21 enamel camping mugs for each grad. Tofino Kombucha offered up a can for each student, Parks Canada donated a toque and whistle, Tourism Ucluelet gave a pennant, Ukee Scoops gifted free ice cream to each grad, and O’Malley spent the remaining grant money on Chocolate Tofino, Thay Tea bubble tea, a free mini-golf session at Long Beach Golf Course, a token from Image West, and of course, the Ukee Dogs poutine.